Albert Park, 2017

Third DRS zone added to increase overtaking at Albert Park

2018 Australian Grand Prix

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A third DRS zone has been added to the Albert Park circuit for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in a bid to increase opportunities for overtaking.

The new DRS zone runs from the exit of turn 12 towards turn 13. The detection point for it is 170 metres before turn 11.

Jolyon Palmer, Renault, Spa, 2017
F1 won’t drop DRS any time soon, says Brawn
The previous two DRS zones at the exit of turns two and 16 are unchanged for this year’s race. As before these are triggered by a single detection point at the approach to turn 14.

The Drag Reduction System was first added to F1 tracks in 2011. Albert Park is the first circuit to feature three DRS zones.

Following last year’s race, the first using Formula One’s current aerodynamic package, several drivers complained that overtaking had become much more difficult. A total of 14 passes were recorded by Mercedes during last year’s race, three of which were made using DRS.

Data from Pirelli indicated the amount of overtaking in Formula One fell by 47% across all tracks in the 2017 season.

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Albert Park, Melbourne, 2018
Albert Park, Melbourne, 2018

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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95 comments on “Third DRS zone added to increase overtaking at Albert Park”

  1. Highly unexpected but highly welcome !!!

    1. Not welcome at all. Even more fake passes, hooray…

      1. Fake passes or no passes. Make your choice.

        1. GravyMonster. I don’t think there’d be NO passes so no defence for DRS on those grounds.

    2. Almost there. Get another DRS zone from 3-11, and dump the 1 sec behind, and I’m happy ;)

      1. #metoo thats the only way I’d accept DRS

  2. The “straight” is too short for DRS to do anything.

    1. It’s most likely designed to close the gap for the end of the lap and the main straight. As it has been mentioned, it might be more difficult to follow the car in front through 11-12 with todays aero-heavy cars. So the gap gets too big before 13-16 to be able to do a drs overtake to 1 or 3. So you put a DRS zone between 12-13 to close the gap to give a chance later on. I don’t think the DRS was ever meant to give such an advantage that the DRS zone is regarded as THE overtaking place. It was meant to close the gaps.. unfortunately they just did it wrong. I’m also quite dissapointed that they haven’t been more active in adjusting the DRS zones. Lengthen where they have less effect and shorten or remove where they’ve become and automatic overtake.

      1. You might be able to close the gap going into 13, but in 14 the aero push is going to open it right back up again. It just seems ineffective to me, but hopefully I’ll be wrong about all of this and it’s going to do something.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      21st March 2018, 13:34

      Hmmm potentially that could be a good thing. They could have more, shorter DRS zones that don’t give easy overtakes but allow cars following within 1s to not be unable to get close enough to pass? They could even remove DRS from the main overtaking straights and instead, have it on all of the smaller straights…..

  3. I’m not sure it is going to make a lot of difference. It’s a fairly short run down to turn 13.

  4. As before these are triggered by a single detection point at the approach to turn 14


    1. Nonsense, total nonsense. Does these guys watch F1? It’s questionable…

    2. Detection point at turn 14 for the second DRS zone sounds stupid. But the nature of the track makes it hard to have a detection point elsewhere.
      On the other side, if you are close enough at turn 11, you have three opportunities to overtake until turn 3. It will be fascinating to watch.

    3. I’m not sure if you’re assuming that the detection point before T14 governs all 3 DRS zones. That isn’t the case:

      The new DRS zone runs from the exit of turn 12 towards turn 13. The detection point for it is 170 metres before turn 11.

      The detection point for the new DRS zone from T12-T13 is before T11. It is only the detection point for the existing DRS zones of T2-T3 and T16-T1 that continues to be before T14.

      1. @phylyp
        No. I am afraid i didn’t make myself clear there. If you are close enough at turn 11, which is the detection point for the third zone, then there is a good chance of overtaking until turn 3 , provided one is close enough at turn 14 which is the detection point for zones 1 and 2(this was my assumption)

        If you lose your position at the end of T13, you only have a short run towards T14, you can certainly keep close and try to reclaim your position on the next two zones.

        I think this is being done primarily to increase the number of overtakes which fell down by almost 50% last year. Although not the best idea for the desired outcome, i feel it is worth a try. No use speculating.

        1. @webtel – apologies, my comment wasn’t in response to you, but was to Matthijs’ facepalm.

          I agree with your point that the sequential nature of the DRS zones means it can be exploited by a canny driver. I recall Alonso as one who was able to effectively pull off such a move.

  5. F1 is so tonedeaf. Unbelievable.

    1. @curti5_morilis
      21st March 2018, 7:07

      Separate detection points for their respective DRS zones could spice it up a bit I would imagine. Driver B passes driver A on the main straight using DRS, driver A is now effectively behind driver B crossing the detection zone which allows him the opportunity to repass in the second DRS zone… I don’t think David croft would have a voice left after each race lol

  6. Just make the whole track a DRS zone and let the drivers get on with it!

    1. Exactly. Give them a certain amount of time to use DRS durning the race and let everybody use it as they please. Similar to P2P in Indycar

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        21st March 2018, 13:45

        @ofitus21 Totally agree. P2P works because it relies on the drivers to use it at the right time. If someone can save theirs up, they can attack at the end but if it’s used at the wrong time, it can be wasted. DRS doesn’t involve any judgement or skill – it’s unlimited providing you are withing a second of the car in front.

    2. Shaun Robinson (@)
      21st March 2018, 10:41

      I miss qualifying with unlimited DRS, there were some seriously squeaky bum time moments!

    3. This makes no sense at all.

      If there is no limit on it’s use it’s useless. That’s the whole point of DRS. To level the playing field a bit so the following driver can overcome the loss of downforce.

    4. Better than what we got. The quicker cars would cope with it better but we could see the better drivers be a bit braver than the rest.

  7. These guys clearly didn’t watch last weekend’s Formula E race. Not a single overtake between Vergne and di Grassi and yet it was a scintillating battle for the lead and a race that had you on the edge of your seat.

    Vergne is fantastic to watch because of his defending skills and Formula 1 bosses and the media are so quick to ignore this and simply chase headline-grabbing overtaking numbers.

    Imola 2005 already showed us this. Overtaking does not make a great race. It’s all about the possibility of an overtake. Defending is as exciting to watch as overtaking and the sooner they start to realise this the better.

    Stop adding DRS zones chasing meaningless numbers of overtakes. Allow these battles to bubble up naturally. And if somebody is stuck behind for a few laps then fine. Actually, better than fine, that’s great! Defending builds the tension and anticipation in the battle and if/when the overtake happens it will be far more rewarding for both driver and viewer. And if it doesn’t (as it didn’t last Saturday) then we still got to witness a great battle.

    They all keep complaining about Mercedes dominance in the championships and how they want to see a more level playing field and yet they want overtaking to become so easy that even when the faster car is behind they can open the DRS and breeze back to the front. How can they expect giant-killing performances that thrill the viewer when the giant always has the advantage of both faster car and DRS. Did they never see Suzuka 2005? How ‘spectacular’ would that race have been if Raikkonen, Alonso and Schumacher had simply spent the race opening the DRS to get to the front.

    You know what, I’m fine with overtaking falling by 47% and a total of 14 passes in the Australian GP. If those 14 passes stem from hard-fought, multiple-lap battles then the race will be far more memorable than one with 60 DRS overtakes. Encourage the drivers to get their elbows out. You may not have the huge headline number of overtakes, but the ones you do have will be far more rewarding.

    Yes the cars need addressing in order for them to be able to get closer to each other in the first place. But please leave the rest to the drivers. I can’t even remember if there was an overtake between Kubica and Massa at Fuji in 2007, but I can definitely still remember what a fantastic edge-of-your-seat battle they had.

    1. +1000

    2. It’s thrilling to see two guys duking it out for the lead, with everyone else being blue-flagged out of the way.

      What’s not so great is seeing a bunch of faster cars fighting for position behind a defending slower car, unable to overtake, which happened all too often in the days before DRS, after cars got mixed up due to differing pit stop strategies.

      There were many discussions on this website on how to avoid a ‘Trulli train’ forming. If you don’t want DRS, you have to come up with a solution to the problem DRS is designed to solve.

      With no passing, racing becomes like digestion — constipated ;o)

      1. I’d rather watch a trulli train than pointless DRS passes. I remember when Coilthard spent almost the whole race trying to overtake Bernoldi in Monaco, or when Senna was in Lotus in 87, and held 4 faster cars behind him most of the Hungarian gp race. It was thrilling! Lots of readers had other examples, I like when a driver needs bravery to defend (like Vergne), or to pull out a move to overtake.

    3. @sbewers love it, love it, love it. I thought last year’s race was pretty good – FIA response: let’s change it. one point i would add is that a prolonged, edge of the seat battle for the lead is circumstantial even with DRS. in barcelona 2011 there was a tense finish (though a largely unforgotten race) with hamilton repeatedly closing up to vettel using his DRS but never quite making it. it was very tense and really on vettel nailing the final sector lap after lap. it was somewhat similar to verstappen and raikkonen in 2017, but it never looked quite like raikkonen was going to do it.

      so there is a possibility that DRS could work for its intended purpose, but 7 years worth of experience has shown us that it almost never does.

    4. @sbewers
      It was a scintilating battle between Vergne and Di Grassi because you knew an overtake was possible, as shown by many of the other drivers in the race.

      In F1-without-DRS you know the chances of overtaking are very close to zero. So a similar Vergne-Di Grassi situation would have led to Di Grassi following all race long, without ever getting really close. It would not have been scintillating.

      Now add DRS to F1 and suddenly it is elevated to FE-level: an overtake might be possible. Maybe even likely, but how it ends is entirely up to the drivers and circumstances. Sometimes an overtake does happen (Hamilton vs Vettel, Spain ’17), sometimes it doesn’t (Raikkonen vs Verstappen, Spain ’16).

      1. The bottom line is there is no point comparing FE with F1. FE cars do not create tons of aero downforce and therefore are not negatively affected in dirty air. F1 in it’s current state is the opposite, and that is a state that Liberty inherited, and that they will change when they revamp F1, having deliberated meaningfully while giving all the teams time to adapt vs knee-jerk reactions.

        Liberty and Brawn are fully and completely aware of all aspects of all racing series, including how F1 is now, and how and where they want to take it. But for now this is their year 2 and they will not be just snapping their fingers and making rash decisions that will only advantage the top teams that can adapt the best.

      2. @Leo B (you should register, it’s awesome!) +1

      3. In F1-without-DRS you know the chances of overtaking are very close to zero. So a similar Vergne-Di Grassi situation would have led to Di Grassi following all race long, without ever getting really close. It would not have been scintillating.

        I disagree. F1 didn’t have DRS in 2010 and still saw an increase in overtaking. The 2009-spec cars could run very closely behind each other. And even at the height of the mid-2000s aero cars we saw races like the Vergne / di Grassi battle with Alonso / Schumacher at Imola in both 2005 and 2006 where an overtake was genuinely possible.

        We remember Montoya as a guy who could get his elbows out and overtake, and Hamilton had already established a reputation for his overtaking by the time he won the 2008 title. All of this was without DRS, in very aero-sensitive cars, and showed that overtaking was possible if you really wanted it.

        Sure, I agree it was probably too difficult to overtake and too easy to defend back in the mid-2000s. We don’t want to go back to the days of Trulli trains, huge aero wakes, and cars not being able to get close enough for this type of battle to happen. I touched on that at the end of my post that the cars should be able to follow each other more closely to enable more battles like this. But at the same time, using DRS to make overtaking too easy and defending too difficult is just as uninspiring as the reverse, only instead of a Trulli train you end up with the fastest car at the front, slowest car at the back, and a large field spread with no possibility of a defensive action to close it back up.

        1. @sbewers I just think you are preaching to the choir. We know you are right, but I think you are wrong to think this is an indication that Liberty loves drs and wants more of it… wants the drivers to have easy passes. Brawn completely gets that DRS makes for fake passes, and he’s never been a fan of drs, but they are simply dealing with the cards they’ve been dealt for now. We need to have patience and give Liberty the time they deserve to deliberately plan for a better future without knee-jerk decisions. For all we know this one drs zone change will be the only one they’ll make all season, or one of only a few. For now, the cars Liberty have inherited are designed with drs in place, and ripping that away will only raise costs and cause havoc for the lesser teams in having to adapt to yet more knee-jerk changes that have no long term focus and only the same short-term thinking BE used, which is what has us where we are with drs, gadget tires etc.

    5. COTD material!

    6. Yet in F1 this is pretty much impossible. The cars cannot stay behind for as long as they did in that Formula E race. Hence DRS to try and get them to close up at least.

  8. They don’t need a DRS zone before turn 13 because that was already a good place for overtaking from what I can remember of past races there. Now all it will probably do is make defending into turn 13 virtually impossible.

    1. @rob91 ”that was already a good place for overtaking from what I can remember of past races there. Now all it will probably do is make defending into turn 13 virtually impossible.”
      – Wrong, it’s never really been that way due to the high-speed nature of the preceding corner.

  9. Another band aid applied.

    1. Lennard Mascini (@)
      21st March 2018, 10:14

      @arki19 indeed, Liberty have realised there is a problem, that we want the possibility of overtaking, which these aero-regs drastically reduce, and as they can’t currently fix the problem completely, they are using band-aids in the meantime until they can make larger changes, which take longer to put in place, to get rid of the cracks entirely.

      1. @leonardodicappucino Exactly. People that think Liberty are doing nothing to change F1 just don’t get it, just haven’t cared to understand what they have been saying.

      2. We want overtaking, not DRS “overtaking” which is dull

        1. @olivenoire
          If a pass with DRS was very easy/dull, it would have been easy without DRS too.

          What is dull is if a car is already 3 seconds faster and then just drives past. That happens with or without DRS. It’s caused mostly by the tyres, but of course also in budget differences causing some cars to be a lot faster than others.

          Stop blaming DRS for things it has no influence on.

    2. I look forward to more gimmicks under our new American overlords. Bernie once semi-seriously suggested fake rain in order to spice up the races. Now, more than ever before, I think that’s a distinct possibility.

      1. * to clarify. “Look forward to …” was completely sarcastic.

      2. You are not being realistic and are not appreciating that this is only Liberty’s second season. They have to first deal with the format they’ve inherited and have said they want to make deliberate and well thought out changes that all can agree on to take F1 into a new era for the betterment of the sport.

        This little tweak of a third DRS zone in Australia is merely that, a minor tweak. It is not an indication that they love DRS and are only going to keep adding more and more zones. They know that under BE’s reign the cars have gotten too aero dependent, too clean air dependent, but they also know they can’t just make big changes overnight that will only raise costs and catch the smaller teams out.

        Try to appreciate that Liberty and Brawn have only talked about long term betterment of the sport but that for now they have to deal with the cards they’ve been dealt until the appropriate time comes. For now the cars are still way too aero dependent for close racing, but hopefully this year’s tires will help somewhat, but unquestionably cars will still be quite negatively affected in dirty air.

        Major changes will come when all teams have been given plenty of notice and the smaller teams won’t be caught out scrambling to catch up to the more resourced bigger teams that can act faster if needs be. Liberty deserves the time and our patience to come up with and implement a better way than BE left it for them.

  10. To be fair, if you’re going to use DRS, i’m happier for it to be used to keep drivers close together as oppose to a slam-dunk overtake.

    1. And he consistently has said he has never liked DRS, including since he has been given a mandate by Liberty. I predict that the new regs for 2021 will eliminate the need for DRS.

    2. @optimaximal As Brawn already states, the tyre difference already create big differences in speed and back then they assumed that would lead to fun racing. In fact it resulted in brilliantly boring drive-by’s. For which DRS usually get’s blamed!

      Apart from those tyre related overtakes being ridiculously boring, the best overtakes happen between the lead cars and when they are closely matched. Since they are usually on similar tyres, they need DRS to stay close or even remotely allow a shot at an overtake. And even then it’s difficult, but at least the threat of an overtake remains and keeps it sort of exciting.

  11. We’ll expect a lot more downforce to be factored in to the cars then. Sector three was always a big part of time gained around the lap, as per the Ferrari domination years, and the DRS sectors will just promote this more to all teams except Mercedes and Vettel.

    It’ll cause some headaches along the ‘back straight’, but if you’re close enough there, higher downforce will almost guarantee you’re close enough to get by with less drag in the following straights.

  12. Let’s hear it for the americans finally sorting out F1 *yaaaay*

  13. No thanks!

    1. Since were stuck with DRS for a bit longer just make the whole track a DRS zone, Give them perhaps 90 seconds of use through a race & let drivers use it as they see fit for both attack or defense.

      Or better yet get rid of DRS & use the hybrid systems as a P2P.

      1. @stefmeister Just no. None of that works at all.

  14. The solution is to regulate the front wings to make them far simpler. If they mandated that the front wing could only contain a maximum of 2 elements etc then the cars could follow closely and we would not need DRS, Blue shells and banana skins.

    Then remove some of the other regulations regarding the rest of the car and we all all good.

    1. I have a feeling they’ll get there with the new regs for 2021, but for now as I’m sure you know, if they regulate a change to the front wing, that will affect everything further back too, so you might as well say you want them to redesign the whole cars. And that’s the plan, but I’m a deliberate way. I also want to see them with different rear wings than we’ve ever seen, that don’t create nearly as much wake. They need a whole new philosophy wrt aero and I’m sure the 2021 cars will be radically different than the current format.

  15. Very surprising. I’m rather sceptical as to whether this DRS zone will have any impact at all. The run to turn 13 is pretty short and already begins at well over 200 kph, so the potential for gaining several car lengths with reduced drag isn’t really there. The following, twisty section will probably extend the gaps again, so it’d be back to square one.
    I think putting the activation point at the exit of turn 9 (with the added challenge of leaving it to the drivers whether they want to go around turn 10 with the DRS activated) would’ve been a better choice, even if overtaking into turn 11 is pretty risky.

  16. this will also make any comparisons to last year’s qualifying times utterly meaningless.

    1. @frood19, there are no DRS zones in qualifying. The drivers are free to activate DRS throughout the entire track.

      1. @serg33 that hasn’t been the case for years. it’s only in the zones during qualifying.

      2. Those were the days

    2. Great point. Hadn’t thought of that. That’s a bit frustrating.

    3. @frood19
      Well, not utterly. Iirc, DRS zones are designed to give the following car an advantage of 2-3 tenths, so I’ll guess that’ll be the upper boundary of the expected gain in time.

      1. @frood19 The tires are different too, so comparisons were always going to have asterisks beside then anyway. There’s the tires, there’d have to be considerations as to air and track temps vs last year, there’s considerations about how teams have developed in spite of the rules stability etc etc. Suffice it to say I would think all indications seem to be that they will be faster this year than last, and we will still start to get an apples to apples comparison between the teams when we finally see them in similar fuel loads and conditions etc etc. Ie. no big deal.

    4. @frood19 I doubt the addition of a third activation zone will really have any impact on lap time.

  17. Lennard Mascini (@)
    21st March 2018, 10:26

    I honestly don’t understand all the negativity in this thread about adding a new DRS zone. Last year, everyone was complaining about the lack of overtaking opportunities. Liberty have realised this and are doing something about it. Yes, it is not a solution to the problem, and neither will it make overtaking into 13 easy. But that is not the point. Albert Park has few other straights apart from the start-finish straight and the one between turns 2 and 3. Thus, they decided to add a DRS zone a bit before those straights, to give the cars a little more opportunity to close up before the main overtaking areas. Also, as to those complaining about DRS in general, Brawn has indeed said he wants to get rid of DRS, but he, as does everyone else, realises they can’t make that change right now, as we have had a pass-free race last year WITH DRS. We can all agree Russia was terrible, and we don’t want more of those types of races. They can’t yet change the aero rules, but I am sure they will eventually. They cannot change the aero rules probably for another 2-3 years as we’ve only just got these new ones. So to some up, Liberty have identified a problem and are trying to mitigate this problem until they can properly fix it. They aren’t going about things the same way as Bernie, with a ‘do something first, see if it works afterwards’ mindset. They want to be sure that the change they make will be for the good, and only afterwards implement it.

    1. +1
      Calling it bad and useless even before the race is meaningless and pure speculation. One can be skeptical but dismissing the idea right away and thus watching the race with a prejudiced mindset will only take the sport downwards. This decision has been taken by a all the people who run the show–not a one man decision like in the Bernie era.
      I am sure Ross Brawn knows more than all of us.
      Let us wait till Sunday and see how it pans out.

      1. @webtel we have had 7 years to see how DRS works, We know how it works, we know the effect it will have & a majority of fans (going by polls, surveys etc..) and even many of the drivers don’t like it.

        f1 say they listen to the fans yet with regards to drs they clearly never have because if they had it would have been gone by 2013. however all we got despite every louder cries from fans to get rid of it is more of it. there totally deaf to what the fans want & that is why viewership, attendance & interest in general has been in freefall since these silly gimmicks came in from 2011.
        and that is actually what the drs fans fail to realise, drs was brought in to increase f1’s popularity yet it’s done nothing but turn most of the people who were watching off….. it’s failed, it should be scrapped asap!

        1. @PeterRogers
          I agree with the fact that DRS is not the right solution for the desired outcome. It is artificial and spoils what would otherwise be pure racing. Read somewhere that F1 has lost a third of its fans in the last decade due to various reasons. That DRS should be scrapped is something every fan wants.

          Would scrapping it solve the issue overnight ? most certainly not. there needs to be an overhaul for the racing to improve and we can hope to see it by (say) 2021.
          For now DRS will live on, so why not add more spice to the races by having an additional zone ? What if we see some fantastic overtakes ?
          Without DRS, it is absolutely easy to predict the WDC and WCC right now !!

  18. The following video is a pretty accurate depiction of my feelings on the of having 3 DRS zones with one actuation point

    1. @ Such meerkat:

      my feelings on the of having 3 DRS zones with one actuation point

      That’s a hypothetical feeling, then. Only the DRS zones 1 and 2 share a detection point, DRS zone 3 has a different one.

      1. My comment was not about the letter of the rules but the spirit of the rules.

        You know doctors take the hippocratic oath? Well I’ve taken the hypocrite oath, I reverse the right to swindle you, much like An F1 team principal!

        1. That makes absolutely no sense.

          1. Haha yeah my English grammar is pretty poor, apologies my friend.

          2. I can look past the grammar, but the thing is: What you said makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

          3. You’ve already said that I make no sense and I’ve apologised for my poor English.

            I made a comment about the DRS Zones and you didn’t like the semantic of my structured comment, you then stated I make no sense, TWICE, we are Racefans not English and syntax and grammar fans.

            Anyway wanna watch Le Mans with me on racefans live? It’s a really good race!

  19. Laaaaame. Just let them use DRS when they see it fits. And lose control of the back if they get too greedy with it!

    1. And there-in lies the issue. You’ll instantly have drivers (Not looking at anyone in particular……….. RG) complaining that it’s unsafe.

  20. The simplest way to improve the racing is to scrap DRS and remove the fuel flow regulations. Drivers can then get an easy pass, or defend from a faster car by “buying” it with extra fuel usage. It would add an extra strategic element to races, and indeed to the championship through dicing with the longevity of engines.

  21. I didn’t see this coming at all, LOL. The first time ever that any given circuit will feature three separate DRS activation zones since its introduction.

  22. I’m not opposed to it, because the circuit is dreadful for overtaking… but they’ll barely have time to activate before they’re braking for Turn 13.

  23. Should have started the zone just before 11 & 12 – way more fun!

    1. @bullfrog Wouldn’t work. High-speed corners and DRS just don’t sit well with each other safety-wise. It’d just bring unnecessary danger to the game.

  24. How about get rid of all 3 zones. Whatever next? Every time a car uses DRS fans are deafenned by the new F1 tune played full blast through the circuit PA system?

    1. @markp YES. That’ll solve the engine sound problem too! That way you don’t even need to hear them! Adds so much drama and exitement for spectators!

  25. If they keep increasing DRS eventually it will be available all lap so it would be tbe same as not having it accept downforce reduced.

  26. Fake it up!

  27. DRS overtakes are like fake orgasms. You believied it would be for real, it looked just as exciting, but in the end all you feel is sorry for the money you cannot take back.

    1. believed*

  28. Justin (@boombazookajd)
    22nd March 2018, 1:14

    let em open up the DRS when they see fit. If they have the stones to do it in a certain section to enable a ballsy pass, let em do it.

    1. I totally agree. There’s gotta be a compromise. That’s how it should have been from the beginning.

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